Clubbin’

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At CMU there are nearly 400 registered student organizations (RSO’s).

“Build confidence, your résumé, leadership skills and a new worldview by joining a CMU student group.” –CMU Student Organizations.

People typically stick to what they know, who they are comfortable with, and don’t push themselves too hard. Here at school, I say there are many reasons to throw those values to the wind and join any club that sounds interesting to you.

Effects of joining an RSO may include but are not limited to:

  • meeting new people
  • increased positivity in your everyday life
  • mental and physical activity
  • professional and personal development
  • time management skills

I first joined the Infusion Dance Team. We are completely student run without any choreography help from faculty or staff here. We are very proud of how well we organize ourselves and perform. For events like the Homecoming Parade, Siblings Weekend, some basketball half-time shows, and Relay for Life, we come up with songs and choreography that fits our skills and is fitting to the event. Our organization doesn’t compete against dance clubs from other schools and we stay on campus for all of our practices and performances.

Coming out of high school, I was a mediocre dancer at best. I learned and executed what skills I considered the minimum for qualifying me to be a dancer. But, bless my soul, I really love to dance. So I decided that I didn’t want it to end with my high school graduation. I searched for the right dance club to join which was surprisingly difficult. There are several here on campus so I had to really look into which team would be a great fit for me. Infusion Dance Team focuses on self and team improvement, a positive place to escape from school/work/other responsibilities, and a group to find friends among dancers. Try outs were nerve racking and challenging so I feel blessed to have made the cut. However, the experience of being on the team is much different. We offer each other so much as far as new skills and tips to improve old ones, that I feel like I could easily learn new things whenever I think I’m ready. It’s a great club for improving myself without feeling the pressure of a competitive team.

Secondly, I joined the Classic Games Club here at central. Another completely student run group, this club’s main purposes include recreation, relaxation, and fun. Every Friday night we meet in the lobby of my building to play all sorts of games. It can range anything from Taboo to Settlers of Catan and from Family Feud to Mortal Kombat. We plan special event nights that include a barbecue, volleyball at the Student Activity Center, going to the casino, a euchre tournament, and many others.  There are no try outs or skills required to join. It’s suggested that you really like board games and games of other sorts but you could even learn to love them if you’re looking for new things to do. We go for hours on end switching from game to game. Everyone has been more than welcoming.

The easygoing atmosphere and friendliness was immediately offered to me and I started telling everyone to check this club out. I have had a couple friends here and there already come play games with us which is why I decided to run for the publicity chair. Several people ran and now my pal Cameron and I are co-chairs. I created a Classic Games Club Snapchat and Instagram that we run and I bought tons of chalk to mark up the sidewalks around campus–unfortunately spring semester weather isn’t exactly conducive to writing with chalk on the sidewalk most of the time so that will take place more in the upcoming fall semester.

Over the summer, I have plenty of people to play games with and time to stretch and be ready to dance again in the fall. I chose these organizations not only for the benefits that come along with being in an RSO but because these activities are already part of who I am and will likely remain to be for as longs as possible.

Situational Leadership: Applied Theory

I am a student in LAS. That may give me something in common with a few hundred students on campus right now, but not every leader is acting in the same interest (especially on one campus). Leadership is often looked at as a singular trait or feature in a person.

Oh he was just born a leader.”

“That’s what makes a good leader.”

“You have to step up and be the leader.”

Leadership takes on many faces and forms. It is flexible and fluid just as any day in this world. It is ever changing. Leadership can be both commanding and supportive in the same day and depend primarily on the situation. Situational Leadership Theory focuses on the adaptation of various leadership skills to effectively handle a specific situation. This theory works under the assumptions that the leader has the ability to read a situation and adapt their skills for the best, and that they will do so if they can.

skating
I was shocked when I was asked to dress as Jimmy MacElroy from Blades of Glory to entertain my cohort. 

Being in LAS has provided me with many opportunities for personal growth. The one thing that challenges me the most is being put into leadership positions that I have not yet experienced. Considering this is my first year away from home, things were already pretty uncomfortable to begin with. If I weren’t in LAS there would have been far too much free time on my hands. We do so many amazing things together as a cohort (required or not). If it weren’t for LAS, I could have spent far too much time letting my leadership skills wither and rust as I watched Netflix for hours.

I gain important experience through leading in very different situations. Without change and flux, a stationary leader doesn’t improve. Daily life changes and our futures are never set in stone so it is extremely important to have the ability to adapt. We can’t rely on just the depth of our leadership skills, there must be breadth as well to offer us wisdom in leadership situations to come.

Yep

I am where I am today because of my decisions. I am where I am going because of the decisions I have yet to make. I didn’t become more or less motivated by someone telling me ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In fact, when there is something that I really desire, I do what I can to reach or attain that goal. Regardless of what I am told, I can make things happen because I say yes.

A question was posed to myself and my peers; Does leadership come from ‘yes’ or ‘no’?

“The tension between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, between ‘I can’ and ‘I cannot’, makes us feel that, in so many instances, human life is an interminable debate with one’s self.”Anatole Broyard

Well I say yes.

We don’t need anyone else to say yes. Sure, it may seem like opportunities become available and doors open when others say yes, but we can’t count on that. Before high school, I liked to live as a victim of circumstance. It was almost easy because teachers were easy on me, and my parents were still looking out for me on basic living tasks. It was rare to be told no or to run into anything drastically life changing in a negative way. So when it did happen, I let that situation get the best of me. Seemingly unexplained guilt would eventually settle into the deepest crevices of my mind and heart after I milked such situations. It wasn’t until I realized I had the power to do important things for myself that I was no longer a victim of circumstance.

I firmly believe that leadership comes from ‘yes’. When I think of leadership attributes I think of courage, determination, compassion, and integrity. Common themes among traits like these involve internal strength and personal wisdom. When there’s a challenge in front of us, as leaders, we should want to say yes. Being able to say yes in the face of adversity shows courage and determination while adding to our internal strength. When faced with a question of doing the right thing, as leaders, we should want to say yes. Being able to say yes to a righteous path while being faced with an easy way out shows integrity and compassion while contributing to our capacity for wisdom.

We must find it within ourselves to say yes to things that scare us, that make us happy, and that create opportunities for ourselves and others.

“To my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can’t see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life.” – Nancy Reagan

So I say yes.

yes

Worn Down

I previously posted about something called the Connections Conference. On the second day, I found myself in just the session that I needed. Whether I got there by accident or not is irrelevant now, but I am certainly glad I got there.

“Worn Out Leaders: Getting Yourself Out of a Leadership Rut” titled a session lead by Suzy Herman. Now if you couldn’t tell from any of my previous posts, you should know that I really needed this. I’ve been drawing all my inspiration from nature and other things I’ve learned at conferences. After attending this session I can see again that I have, inside me, inspiration and original thought every day.

Some days or weeks, my heart seems to pump blood of a dull nature. My brain’s neurotransmitters feel as if they slow to a painful and unresponsive state. My body prepares for unreasonable sadness. This is most often caused by unpleasant repetitive days that result in days where I want to do nothing. Not even fun things like play Super Smash Bros. Super Smash Bros. It’s a serious problem that I wasn’t sure I had the tools to address until now.

asain eyes
Telling stories at the Connection Conference 

We started by drawing what we love about our various leadership roles. Secondly, we identified what symptoms we display as worn out leaders. For example, I wrote,

“1. Finding walls very interesting for hours

2. Researching jobs that don’t require higher education

3. Spending time alone even when offered fun things to do with others”
The solutions that Suzy helped me to come up with include changing my schedule as much as possible without putting important things off, and re-evaluating my priorities.

It seems like maybe I could have come up with these cures on my won, but maybe I just needed this kick start from someone with experience. Either way, I am extremely glad and extremely thankful for that session.

 

Mind Games and Motivation

Psychology was difficult. Maybe not for everyone, but it was certainly hard for me. I felt like I was learning another language, quickly having to apply it, and work with it based off of slightly educated guessing. Our professor told lame jokes quite often and gave us lots of online homework every week. I enjoy getting A’s on my assignments and doing well in a class. In PSY100L, I didn’t do too hot. I got about a B- average because of my incapable brain.

change situation
Useful advice

Psychology was fun and interesting. Maybe not for everyone, but it was certainly intriguing for me. I felt like I was learning useful leadership information and quickly being able to apply it based off of examples from class. Our professor stopped talking just to answer questions quite often and helped us to understand online homework every week. I enjoy feeling like I can understand people better and doing well with my classmates. In PSY100L, I struggled to get better grades. I got about a B- average despite the lack of experience I have with psychology.

Psychology was hard for me and I am proud of my final exam score!

Screenshot 2015-12-11 11.46.44
105 out of 120 = 87.5%

 

Perfectly Prepared Students Probe President for Positive Answers

In LDR100 we had the opportunity to speak with the president of the University. Being able to speak with President Ross instead of being talked at is pretty neat. Engaging speakers are certainly easier to listen to and learn from. The President had printed out handouts to outline his main points for us. The points clearly outlined some of the President’s important life values and words to live by. He clearly put his best foot forward because he sees how serious we are as students. It was different however, to see a person in power who willingly gets into the position to be asked questions from such serious students. He was comfortable being uncomfortable and I respect that.

After we learned what we could from some of his more intense life stories, we got down to business. The questions that were asked surprised even me. I constantly see my classmates in a rather silly state outside of class. I was thoroughly impressed by the questions that they came up with for President Ross. Previously meditated or spontaneously conjured, the ideas for these questions were good. After hearing some of them It prompted me to get into the conversation. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what question I ended up asking–but I do remember one thing. One of my classmates asked what our school was doing to compete with Big Ten schools. The president talked about some of the recent academic programs that have grown or emerged. He talked about the Leader Advancement Scholars, of course. He even added on some of the amazing things that alumni have done and told him about. Then I raised my hand. Instead of asking another prying question, I asked to add on to his answer. I told my classmate that CMU competes with Big Ten schools with the campus itself and how nice it is. I told him that one of the biggest reasons for me deciding to come here was because students at CMU are more involved and dedicated to their passions than I have ever heard of or seen. CMU encourages students to be so much more than students by the amount of extracurricular opportunities on campus and the high involvement in every form of it. My friends who went to Michigan State and Michigan University are never doing anything. Sure, they do homework and study but what else? They are basically wasting their free time by not joining anything or volunteering. Getting a job won’t just be like going to class and studying. I just see more practicality and usefulness in how students here are living. CMU truly graduates leaders.

Fred Factor Reflection

Fred is a real person but also a concept that has changed thousands of people for the better. Mark Sanborn was inspired by a mailman to write a book about becoming your best self. The idea is that this mailman, named Fred, went above and beyond his duties as an employee and as a decent human being. He had  a way with making people feel better and valuable. You can watch this video that really captures what the book and the following movement are all about. As a part of our leadership class, we were to find creative ways to become a “Fred” and show the effects that we had. My team decided to spread positive vibes on campus and over social media. We handed out flowers to strangers with a note attached that read,

Step One: take a picture with or of your flower and post it on social media with #sharetheloveCMU

Step Two: pass the flower on to someone else who would appreciate it so that they can do the same”

After we recorded several brave flower exchanges and dissected the reasons why it helped us attain our goal, we put together this presentation that summed it all up quite nicely. If you would also like to see the wonderful people receiving the flowers, you can click here and admire the awkward building of connections that we made.

The project and the presentation may be over, but learning such valuable lessons and getting myself to go out there and do something definitely leaves a lasting impression. I will continue to hold myself and my group-mates accountable for being the best version of ourselves we can be.

LDR 100

LDR100This is the first step I take as a student minoring in Leadership. It also happens to be a very important step toward bettering my leadership
lifestyle. LDR 100 is a pretty simple class. It’s straight forward, it’s fun, and it offers guidance. And although the class also offers many challenges, it is not a  point of stress. The class not only teaches valuable leadership lessons but many management strategies for being a successful college student. Other students who don’t have the opportunity to take a class such as this won’t learn the ins and outs quickly (or some–not at all). By whichever path lead me to this point, I consider myself lucky.

As I continue on a path from LDR 100, I hope to take what I have learned to heart and apply it to my job, my classes, and my relationships. I may be a COM major, but I have yet to take a communication class that has taught me more about relationships–professional or personal. I look forward to the days that I really bring out the skills I have acquired so far. However, I am not perfectly well-rounded; I still have some rough edges. Up next is LDR 200. I usually wouldn’t be nervous about any leadership class but, then again, I usually know the majority of the people in the class. Next semester I will be taking the class with students I’ve never met before. This may sound normal for most college classes but it is certainly not common for students in the Leader Advancement Scholar program to take a leadership class without their cohort (especially this early into school). Wish me luck!

Each Puzzle Piece

I often find myself mindlessly scrolling through various forms of social media and stumbling upon articles and videos. These posts usually make us think that we have some sort of connection with the writer or person who shared the video because it is just oh-so-relatable. Today it seems too easy. We form relationships (real or virtual) based on a couple common interests. I saw that you tweeted lyrics to a song that I love; we must have so much in common. And so we form these connections that rarely even leave the space of social media to become more real and personal (not to mention that they sometimes rarely leave the comfort of our own thoughts). As a member of the human race, I know it’s easier to believe that these simple commonalities can be all that a relationship needs. But what actually matters in creating solid connections with others?

Fire up for CMU students relaxing in the hot tub after going down all of the slides at least three times.

Believe it or not, I think about this quite often. When the CMU Leadership Institute offered me the opportunity to go to the Connections Leadership Conference FOR FREE, you know I was on top of that. Leading up to the event itself, I was never entirely certain of what it was all about. Being unsure is far easier when, no matter what, I know that I get to participate in child-like-wonder at the Great Wolf Lodge’s water park. All twisty-slides aside, I was still looking forward to the conference.

We were seated in a ballroom area around fancy dining tables upon our arrival on Saturday. We were handed some booklets with the schedule and many worksheets pertaining to conference activities. After a nice lunch and some welcoming words, the conference finally began. Only two sessions that I went to were assigned two me and I was able to pick another five that I found interesting. Having that freedom was a conference-first for me and I was crazy about it.

Group work to show how the individual, culture, physical environment, organization, and government all work together.
Group work to show how the individual, culture, physical environment, organization, and government all work together.

Being around so many different CMU students and understanding the various leadership roles they held around campus seemed wonderfully enlightening. While working with countless new student-leaders, I began to see why they called it the Connections Conference. With each session and each activity I found that there are so many resources at my disposal. Between the organizations and the amazing individuals on campus, it seems impossible to feel alone with any goals I may have.

I had a common sense of usefulness throughout every one of my sessions during this conference. They were all useful because they brought up the connections that really matter. After all the wondering and worrying about what really makes a relationship, feelings of relief and satisfaction overcame me.

Finally, a conference that caught my attention and never let it go.

Connections are strong when you talk about what really matters to you in life. Who do you care most about in your life and why? What do you read or hear about in the news that really gets your blood boiling? What are you most happy doing with your free time? What are you most passionate about? More often then not, it is hard to answer these sort of questions without giving it some time and thought. I honestly believe that it shouldn’t have be that way.

It’s easy for us to have faith in petty similarities. It’s easy to avoid vulnerability by only talking about things that you have in common with others instead of saying what you really think and waiting for others to come forward with similar thoughts. We need to start asking the tough questions. We need to start showing others what is really important to us. And I don’t mean your Lulu Lemon $80 leggings, your smart phone, your Cyboard, or when your jeans still fit after the holiday season. In order to make sustainable and truly meaningful connections with others, we have to get real with each other. We have to talk about what we want to do with the rest of our lives and why. I have to admit, it’s a scary place to be–outside of the warm and cozy comfort zone we create for ourselves. But I’d like to know how many great things can happen without taking a step outside of this zone. Movements don’t start with a thought lingering within our heads for a few days and then passing with a sigh and an unfulfilled dream. Big things start to happen when those thoughts and beliefs are shared with others and you begin to see a bigger picture.

Inside and outside of my campus, I see that we all need each other. As students, workers, dreamers, artists, and many more, we each have a piece to offer to each other.  You can only begin to see a beautiful picture when you start bringing the pieces together.

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